Read pt. 2 here
Everyone experiences heartbreak.
Mine came swift with a kick in the gut during the spring of ’02.
I was a sophomore at Oklahoma Baptist University & my relationship with boyfriend had skyrocketed – just like we had hoped. During the fall semester, he had even planned on asking my dad for permission to marry me.
His car broke down, preventing him from driving to Shawnee to hang out with the family, which proceeded to freak him out enough to question whether or not we were supposed to be together. We did the typical “break” – no talking for a week. For me, it was horrible. I had completely built my life around this person & instantaneously, my life was void without the hour long chats at night. I had no computer in my room, and no true friends yet (I spent all my time with boyfriend & my best friend who went to OU) so I became very, very studious.
During one of my family’s visits to see me, my mom & dad surprised me with my very own laptop. Huzzah! Now I had the internets & could keep in contact with my UMHB friends who I was missing – a lot. One night, as I was talking with my old roommate via IM, she mentioned all of the latest gossip. Who was with whom, who had left, who had gone crazy, you know…the usual.
I asked her for any & every screen name she had of people I knew.
I got to talk with Russ that evening.
We still laugh at this conversation. It was the typical “what’s happened since the last time I spoke with you” type of conversation – except Russ had broken up with the girl he was dating & had started dating someone else.
A very important someone else.
It was during this conversation that we shared with absolute certainty with the other person that we were with our future mates. Russ told me he “just knew wedding bells were in the future” concerning his girlfriend & him, and I returned the sentiment about boyfriend & me.
May I remind you? Boyfriend & I weren’t really talking at this point. Our relationship was…shaky. Arguments had become the regular. His frustration & harsh words should have been a red flag, but I was blinded by my hopes.
It was good talking with Russ, though – he still had the uncanny ability to make me laugh.
That was the last time we spoke for a year and a half.
As for boyfriend and me, things changed – for a little while. Looking back, the small hiccup in the fall was a precursor to an incredibly rocky relationship. It didn’t take long for everything to come crashing down.
Easter weekend I celebrated with boyfriend at his house. By this point, boyfriend had taken a position at a local used car lot as a used car salesman (jokes welcomed & encouraged). His schedule was completely unpredictable. I had purposefully driven up to see him that weekend with my best friend (she was from boyfriend’s home town & went to high school with him) because I knew he was off. I was concerned. To say he was cold towards me is an understatement.
The past few weeks had taken their toll on my confidence. Verbal abuse, while not extreme, was becoming a more & more prominent feature of our relationship. Boyfriend had replaced his loving accolades for more “appropriate” words describing me: ditzy, annoying, weak, too much, high maintenance…in an attempt to be “brutally honest,” boyfriend had become brutal to my fragile heart.
He broke up with me Easter sunday.
I was “just too much for him to think about” & he “couldn’t take the responsibility” of being in a relationship. For me, this was completely unfounded. Yes, his words had been harsh – but like I said earlier – I was SO blind…SO intent on his love & affection, his negativity became normal & expected.
That night, I fought between heartache & denial. My best friend & I went on one of our standard neighborhood walks (which was rough, because boyfriend lived down the street) It was this night she told me something that would later come back to haunt me.
“You know, Elora, relationships are like a marathon. You run and run and run and suddenly comes running up beside you for a little while. You gain strength from their presence. You become close…running mates. Your steps align with theirs. Then they leave. Or you leave. You have to take a different path or they have to slow down…the reasons are numerous. But, one day you’re going to look to your side & find someone who has been running with you the whole way. That’s who you want. That’s your true running partner.”
At the time, I wanted to punch her. But it turned out to be one of the wisest things she ever said to me.
I came back to OBU & immediately went to my dorm room, leaving a message on my board outside for the girls not to bother me for a little while. (I was an RA) I stayed in my room for a solid 48 hours, just grieving & soaking in the heart ache.
It took six months to get over him.
The summer after sophomore year was brilliant. I plugged in to a local college group & kept myself busy. I made friends. I made guy friends. I flirted. I let myself heal.
When I went back to Oklahoma, I have to admit, there was more than a little trepidation. So much had happened in a year – I wasn’t sure if I was ready to go back. My best friend & I had slowly grown apart – simply because of my lack of ability to hear the truth. She grew up with ex-boyfriend. She was too close to the source of my pain. So I let her go.
Despite my mistakes with friendships God had blessed me with, he made sure I wouldn’t be alone. Since boyfriend had broken up with me, my relationships with girls in my dorm had blossomed. The support system I had was unbelievable. Like rock, they were there. Always. Willing to fight for me & willing to laugh & cry with me. Beautiful relationships I am still thankful for.
I fell in love with the campus that fall. I had one year under my belt, I was an upperclassman, I knew the professors & they knew me. It was going to be a good year, I could feel it in my bones.
And then he called.
It was out of the blue. And at first? I was so angry. I probably should have stuck with that emotion because the next feeling came over me in one fell swoop: I wasn’t over ex-boyfriend. Hearing his voice on my cell phone caused an earthquake internally. I wasn’t ready for this. I…didn’t think I could handle this whole “let’s talk & be friends” thing.
So I ignored him.
For two whole weeks, I ignored phone calls & e-mails. Then I couldn’t do it anymore. I called him back & we talked until 4 AM. He missed me. He had been on other dates but could only think of me. I was on this pedal stool & he didn’t want me to come down. He wanted to try again. But slowly.
He said everything I had prayed for – everything I was expecting to happen because remember? He was the one. He WOULD come back.
That semester was a whirlwind of a relationship. More intense than the last time we were together, yet with less strings.
Read: totally not healthy.
My friends knew this. Heather Diane (HD from here on out), my life line & recently acquired sister of a best friend, spoke truth many times into my heart those few months. I just wasn’t ready to listen.
The bottom fell out from under me after Thanksgiving break. I had asked if he wanted to come home with me for the break, but he wasn’t able to because of work. I left thinking everything was okay. Over break I heard the news.
He was seeing someone else.
Someone I knew.
Someone I considered a friend.
I had no idea the hurt I felt the year before was only a portion of what I would feel with this news. I suddenly felt so very, very foolish. I called him the night I got back, and within minutes I was weeping…he was yelling…yelling into the phone about my immaturity & how I acted like a middle school girl & I was too emotional & I should have known there was nothing between us.
“You told me you loved me.”
I hung up on him.
it was ugly.
To be perfectly honest, the hurt was so deep that night that I still feel the pinch. I still feel the shortness of breath & the bottom break way. I crawled into my bed & cried. I was so tired of this. So tired of him. So tired of my heart being walked on & bruised & beat up. I knew this wasn’t how it was supposed to be. So I prayed.
I prayed so hard that night. I prayed for peace. I prayed for my future husband. I prayed for healing. I prayed for deliverance. I prayed that these lingering feelings for ex-boyfriend would completely disappear.
I wanted free.
I woke up the next morning swollen eyed but refreshed. I was at peace. I knew without a doubt, God had me in the palm of his hand, and while my heart was still incredibly tender….the healing process had begun.
It was that week that without any fanfare, Russ & I started talking again.